By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01

  College was out, for ever. When I left last fall, my life was about to start a whole new phase. But I'd yet to get away from home, and Betazed, and if I will admit to myself, my memories. After all, this is where it all happened for me; my birth, my childhood, my first love, and consequently, my first heartbreak.

"Deanna!" A voice shouted as I was coming out of my local delicatessen store, a voice that I didn't want to acknowledge. But as she was almost upon me when she'd screeched my name I had no choice but to smile and give her my full attention.

She looked great, as usual.

We'd been at school together and, even though she had a reputation, secretly, she was the one girl all us 'stiffs' admired. Wendy Roper had no qualms about going out there and getting what she wanted, regardless of who that possession belonged to. I had been no exception.

"Well," I sighed dramatically, "look at you. It's been a while." Not long enough, I hastily added silently. But even so, I couldn't help but admire her; long legs, long eye lashes, long hair that didn't need taming every morning, and chic clothes that hung flawlessly on her perfectly proportioned lithe body. She looked like the answer to any boys fantasy.

Any boy. Even mine.

I still hadn't forgotten.

She'd taken him away from me, effortlessly. Without even thinking about it, she had dazzled him with her wit, her beauty and her body. She'd had him in the palm of her hand, and the one time that I'd caught him, he'd looked more than happy to be there. It hadn't taken him long to forget about plain, little, simple me. I'm still not quite sure how he managed to forget about what we had shared together, but he had.

I had hated her for a few weeks after he'd left, but it hadn't lasted. I blamed myself for being such a timid little mouse because I just didn't have what it took to keep him. Wendy Roper did. I'd been heartbroken for a while, but, time passes, as it does, and I didn't hate her so much anymore. I'd quickly come to realise that some people just can't help what they are. It made me feel better, knowing that.

But I still remembered that something beautiful had existed between Will and I. Something that Wendy would never have had with him, and that was the sole reason that I was able to forgive them both. Youth had been against us back then. And time. I could have won him back, I know I could have, but their betrayal had been too raw. It had hurt too much. I didn't have much pride, back then, and the little that I did have, I used up to walk away from him.

It had been the hardest thing that I had ever done. That and not saying goodbye to him when he finally did leave. I wanted to, but I couldn't. I couldn't give up on him, not even then.

It had been many months later before I could allow myself to silently whisper the words to the stars when he didn't come back for me.

"Come and have a coffee with me so we can catch up." Wendy glanced down at my shopping bag. "You can show me what you've been buying."

I smiled gamely at her as she linked her arm with mine and spun me on the spot to head in the opposite direction towards a coffee shop a block down. The same coffee shop that we all used to congregate in, not so long ago. We managed to get a seat near the window and placed our order. Her treat, she said. That was fine by me. I didn't dislike her 'that' much. Within moments two hot, very frothy coffees were put before us and with them came the questions.

"So, what have you been up to?"

I shrugged. "Nothing much. I'm waiting on few things. I won't know if I've been accepted for another two weeks. You?"

I had no intentions of getting into what I was waiting for, as I knew she would have instantly made the link between Starfleet Academy and Will. And besides, I hadn't told my mother yet.

"Oh," She crowed. "I just got a raise and a promotion, if I want it. It would mean moving to the capital city, of course, but I'm not decided yet. Not sure if I want to leave my boyfriend behind."

<> I thought sadly. Then I thought again. <> "I, I heard that things might be serious between you two?" Oh, God, did I really want to know this? Too late now.

She ran confident fingers through her long hair and smiled knowingly. "Well, I haven't seen him since he left on his mission, but I'm sure he'll be back."

She didn't have to add, 'for me'. The smirk on her face gave me that answer. "I see." In the tense silence that followed I silently convinced myself that I was over him; that he'd gone from my blanket on the ground straight into his own bed, with her. I had nothing to hold him any longer, because she had everything. Well, almost everything, but it seemed that just one thing wasn't important enough to hold him to me.

And anyhow, I wouldn't want him back now.

"So the marriage rumour isn't true then?" I asked with my heart in my throat.

Her laughter roared around the small cafe and I swooned with loathing, and self-loathing, at how the woman before me made light of the man that I loved. Had loved.

Damn it, still loved.

"God, no!" she shrieked. "I'm way too young to even think about getting married. I've got plans; places to go. Things to do. Can't do that with a man in tow."

"Surely it wouldn't have to be like that. I would have thought that you would have liked the life of a Starfleet's wife."


Her face turned thoughtful. Uh oh. "Funny how things turn out, isn't it, Deanna?"

Uh oh. "What do you mean?"

"Well, you and I used to be enemies because we both wanted Will, didn't we?"

I took a deep calming breath. "And you won him, fair and square."

Wendy's slow nod confirmed it. "Yes, I did, didn't I?" But then she smiled turning her full gaze onto me. "And you got Wyatt."

In turn, I nodded slowly. Yes, I'd got Wyatt. "Yes, we're going out

"You don't sound very enthusiastic about that."

How could I get enthusiastic about someone who knows he's only second best. Who knows that he'll probably be dumped at the first opportunity of his girl escaping not only the planets and her mothers hold on her, but was going to go after the much stronger love of a man who she would always hold in her heart until she found him again.

"He's a nice guy." I said defensively.

"So's Will." She said matter of factly.

I nodded. "So's Will." I agreed. "But Will doesn't belong to me anymore." <>

"Because I stole him from you."

I pushed myself to a stand and made a huge effort to put a smile upon my face. She rose to her feet, too, instantly realising that the tentative move to putting behind their differences had failed. Deanna stuck out her hand and instinctively, Wendy slipped her own into it.

"Good luck, Wendy, and, goodbye. I don't suppose we'll see each other again. Thanks for the coffee."

And then I ran. Ran away from her. Ran away from dreams that could never be because she'd ruined them all for me. Ran for admitting to myself that I didn't have what it needed to hold onto the only man that would ever make me feel complete. I ran from Imzadi.

My slow, heavy-hearted footsteps took me in the opposite direction to where I had been heading before I'd bumped into Wendy, my mood completely different now. I'd been fairly happy with my lot before I met her, and now, now I just wanted to cry. Cry for all that I'd lost, and all that had been stolen from me.


My Imzadi.

She'd stolen him from me and he'd gone to her, willingly.

But she didn't want him, not really. She'd said so herself. Maybe...

I hadn't sensed him because I'd been so lost in my own troubled thoughts until I felt his hand slip into mine. I turned sad eyes to face him.

"Hello, Deanna."

"Wyatt, what are you doing here?"

"Looking for you. I went for a coffee."

He didn't need to say anything else. "You spoke to Wendy."

He nodded and then slowly pulled me to a stop, turning me so that he could look down into my face. "You're going after him, aren't you?"

His question finally set free the choice that had become locked deep within me. "Yes. Yes, I am. I'm sorry, Wyatt, I never meant to hurt you."

He pulled me closer, gently tugging on our linked fingers and kissed me lightly on the forehead. "It's okay, I understand. Thanks for being honest with me."

I sighed against his chest, a strange thing to do under the circumstances, but Wyatt didn't push me away. In fact, I felt his arm lightly snake round my waist, as though he was suddenly reluctant to let me go. "You deserve better." I murmured. "I'm sorry for hurting you."

"That's okay, I'll survive." He gave me a quick squeeze and let me go. "Be happy, that's all I can ask, and when you find him, Deanna, do us all a favour and hang on to him this time."

I smiled sadly up into his dark eyes and held back the tears that I could feel threatening. I wasn't quite sure if they were for the loss of Wyatt's continued devotion, or the possibility of not finding my one true love again.

"Bye, Wyatt." I whispered huskily.

I watched as his mouth formed the simple word but no sound fell from his lips. Instead he gave me a tender, lost look then turned and walked away.

For a long moment I watched him walk away from me, but I felt...I felt freedom ripple over me, and so lost in thought as I slowly turned on my heels to walk the other way once more, I almost missed the woman standing in the shadows. Almost, but not quite as I belatedly realised, that had been her intention.

I sensed rather than saw her malignant glee, and as I passed, I saw her step out from her hiding place and head in the same direction as Wyatt.

She'd done it to me again.

But maybe this time... this time, Wendy Roper had done me a favour.

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